Junior Coaching #1 Luckfield Lake, Broadmayne...

Whips, Ground Bait and an unwelcome Code Brown....

I have had everything crossed for a couple of weeks now for some good weather to grace us on our opening Junior coaching session at Luckfield. Although that made it incredibly hard to sit down on occasions, it seemed to have paid off with only light evidence of frostiness on my shed roof.


I peeled myself out of bed at 5am and threw back the curtains with a smile. This action scared the cat who had been washing her seating area on the windowsill and she greeted me with a hiss which I took it to mean ‘do you mind?’


Of course, preparations for this event like all Junior events, started along time ago. Booking venues, preparing equipment, cleaning everything, and buying toilet rolls. Even pacing around the garden muttering to myself what I wanted to say whilst Matilda the cat followed at my heel until she found it too boring. She then just sat there staring at me. Judging me, always judging me….


Fast forward to the day of the great beginning and I popped a couple of signs out to direct bleary-eyed parents the way to the lake down the tooth rattling lane to Luckfield. I turned into the track to the lake and.... cars in the car park? Fortunately, I recognised the red ‘Copp mobile’ and the vehicle of the Red Fox. So, no throwing anyone off was going to be needed using my ‘stern face’. I greeted both and set about erecting the Ladies Loo tent. More on this later.

Those of you who are veteran Blogistas will know that I frequently have trouble with the loo tent. It has poked me, enveloped me like a squid and even chased me on one occasion. But I think it was glad to be released from its hibernation because it behaved itself impeccably today. Loo location is tricky at Luckers, but I found a spot between a barbed wire fence and some thorn bushes which, on reflection, wasn’t the best place for bare bottoms to hang out in. But where is the fun without an atmosphere of jeopardy?


Our numbers had dropped from a full house to nine juniors due to Jack Grassby succumbing to the dreaded C-19 virus. I’m sure I speak for us all when I wish him a speedy recovery. Indeed, guest helper Steve ‘Mr Warburtons’ Crowford was till recovering from it and was unavailable, our very own Captain Chris Ward has recently shaken it off only to aggravate an old arm-wrestling injury by moving a bed which turned his favourite beer drinking arm blue! Even my mother-in-law has caught it from somewhere. I suggested it was an ideal time to take her broom in for a service seeing as she was laid up, which didn’t go down well. Mother-in-law jokes…You gotta love ‘em…


As the start time approached, participants started to arrive thick and fast. The car park was filling quickly, and a little traffic direction was required. One of the many strings to my bow even if I did trap the Roes car in forgetting that they needed to leave early necessitating some more directions a little later. Just a quick word on a new game that Mr Tom and I have discovered. Our very own cheerleader, Anna, is a self-confessed nervous driver. You must reverse out the car park at Luckfield and it is fair to say that Anna tends to dread this part of the day. It probably doesn’t help her very much when I stand in front of the car pretending to film her actions with my phone with Tom randomly shouting ‘Look out!’ or ‘Woah!’, causing Anna to jam the brakes on like Lewis Hamilton going into a hairpin corner. The result of this is that Ollie is usually looking quite green before they even get to the main road… Small things, etc. It didn’t stop Tom from getting a kiss blown at him from the cheerleader as she left. I only get a smiling wave farewell. He later told me that it was probably because he took his jumper off in front of her that caused his t-shirt to ride up exposing his chiselled six pack beneath.

I do have a six pack but it would appear that someone has lost the white thing that holds them all together. If the same thing happened with me, rather than causing heart flutters, it would probably induce nausea instead. Getting older sucks…


Just before we began, my phone rang and it was Chris Holding telling me that Noah wasn’t feeling the full ticket either and wouldn’t be coming. Not Covid, but feeling rubbish nevertheless. Like Jack G, we wish him a full recovery very soon. Down to eight…


I called everyone together and began my finely honed speech about health and safety. I made a comment that fishing could get exciting, but we must be always aware of the water’s edge. If you look around at the coaches present, not one was under the age of twenty-five (The joke being that we all clearly were). Si Wag took the opportunity to point out that two of the coaches were indeed under the age of twenty-five (Tom and the lovely Alex). He loves being right and it annoys me!

There’s no denying that he was absolutely correct. But it doesn’t prevent me from giving him a new nickname of ‘Si Wag, Master of Corrections.

That’ll teach him…Wait? That just gives me more to type! Dammit!


After the H&S chat, I conducted a little tutorial on the fine art of whip fishing. I will let you all in on a little secret here. I HATE doing the tutorials. But I want the Juniors to learn, so they are necessary. Every second that I am talking I can feel eyes on me and hear the thoughts of the Shrimps saying, ‘Get on with it fat man, I want to go fishing!’…

Couple that with my inner voice screaming ‘You’re rubbish!’ the whole time. I do get the tendency to babble a bit (a lot).

My confidence was not boosted when Jake the Mudmonster stands in front of yawning towards the end. I guess it is the same as the music playing at the end of an Oscars acceptance speech. Time is up moron, move along!


From what I witnessed later on it was worth it because the juniors on level one all caught fish using the whip exactly as they were shown.


About halfway through the day I did another talky bit on how to mix ground bait the right way. They got mucky hands. They were happy. (Note to self: Mucky paws = Happy Shrimps)


I let them choose their own swims and I appraise them accordingly.


Peg One: Josh Roe: I know josh had been fishing through the colder months with his dad, Martin. He even got photo in the Angling Times with a Revels mud pig (Carp) that he had caught. No mud pigs today, but he equipped himself well to fishing with a whip under the expert gaze of Si Wag, Master of Corrections. (Yeah, I’m going to get fed up with this!) Martin had asked me what tackle he should bring? I naturally said ‘Everything’. So, he did. A mountain of tackle taller than Josh himself. I wanted a picture of Josh standing in front of the mountain but, apparently having your picture taken for the Junior Coach is not as exciting as one taken for the Angling Times! But I took it anyway!


Peg Two: Jake the Mudmonster Taylor: The best thing about having Jake fishing with us, is that he brings his dad, Glenn, along with him. Glenn is a funny guy and gives as good as he gets when it comes to banter. It’s just so much fun! Jake is one of our trophy winners this year and deservedly so. Although, not having fished much through the winter (and who can blame him?), he was a bit rusty. Today was spent reacquainting himself with his equipment. Jake caught some nice Roach with the whip and was surprising at the amount of ‘feedback’ you get from a short pole with no reel! Every fish feels like a monster, and it was fun watching him get to grips with it all. Glenn sent me the best message after the event saying, ‘It was good to be back with the family again’. Yes, it was my friend, yes it was….

I promised that I wouldn’t mention the fact the Glenn had loaded a pole winder so badly it looked as if he had just thrown the rig at the winder and called the job done. So, I won’t…


Peg Three: Lewis Softley: Mr Tom had asked to coach Lewis because they had been ‘swimming in the same germ pool at school’. It made sense to me and so it was. Lewis’s interest is in the pursuit of Carp, so it also made sense to team him up with the Luckfield Carp catching machine that is Mr Thomas Foyle. All credit to them though, they fished with a whip as requested before ‘HMS Bait Boat’ put in an appearance. Evidence of Toms casting proved that this was going to be inevitable. Four casts to get the bait where it was needed tends to frighten fish off somewhat. But HMS Bait Boat can deliver a Carpy breakfast with pin-point precision, negating any need for skill or talent. I jest of course, but it was a risk to get HMS Bait Boat out in front of eight inquisitive Shrimps that all wanted to ‘play toy boats’. Enough bait boat bashing. Lewis and I had a chat and he was happy to learn the basics of fishing and rather maturely noted that it would only go to support to his knowledge of Carp fishing going forward. Lewis is like Farmer Max in that he is in the older age group, mixing with kids much younger than himself with no issues.


Peg Four: Austin ‘Cruncher’ Scott-Kennedy: New lad, Austin and his lovely mum Amy, are new to coarse fishing and new to the club. I have to say they seem to have fitted in very well and are both a delight to be around. Under the expert jurisdiction of Jon ‘Don’t call me Bushman’ Bass, Austin set about tackling the residents of Luckfield with great aplomb. So, why the name cruncher already I hear you all scream? (Cue the music from the old Hovis bread advert)

Back when I were a lad, we used to holiday in Ireland to catch the many fish and drink the many Guinness’s there. The River Shannon holds lots of very large Roach and Bream and the matches were often won with such fish. To win you needed to get them in quickly and elastic in the end of poles was replaced with stuff called Power Gum. It doesn’t stretch as far as elastic, so you were able to swing much larger fish to hand. We Called it ‘Crunching’. (Scape of the needle against vinyl as the music stops) Being new, Austin’s brain went into ‘That fish is coming in now and it’s coming in fast’. Since those days in Ireland, I haven’t seen Roach that large being swung into hand and judging by the rather alarmed look on Jon’s face, neither had he! Jon decided to employ a butterfly catching technique of landing fish whereby the fish was more ‘rescued’ in mid-air, rather than being netted in the water. By the end though Austin had got the hang of it, leaving them in the water to net. He seemed to have taken a leaf from Ollie’s book too whereby he got his mum to net them for him. She thought she was coming fishing to relax and take in some rays… Now that’s funny!! It gives me great pleasure to welcome you both to the family and I’m sure that Austin is going to pick up things very quickly.


Peg Five: Ollie ‘Aquaboy’ Smith: Now, despite her driving prowess, there are no flies on Anna when it comes to swim choice. I had not realised that you could move that fast in wellies (without breaking into a run of course). Peg five was hers and no one was going to stop her. The direction in which the sun kisses the lake means that P5 gets kissed all day. Thus, Anna too had her radiance enhanced by perpetual sunshine for the duration of the event. (Can you tell that I’m trying to make up for ripping it out of her driving?) Ollie is one of our more advance participants and therefore wears a look of indifference when I am doing my talky bits. I know he still has much to learn and maybe recap on. But he has got the march on the others and endures the repetition well. I’m not sure if he fished with the whip but caught lots of fish anyway. Nice bloke Tim was looking after Ollie today and I hope that he picked up some useful tips from the lad. Although I didn’t see it happen, Ollie attached himself to a big wobbly Carp which didn’t want to have its picture taken today, and promptly shed the hook. Ollie did search me out to show me two 1lb Roach that he had swimming in his landing net. Fish are huge when you catch them and often shrink over a period of time. This was the case with these Roach because the largest was probably six to eight ounces at best. Still lovely fish though… I tried to promote waters edge awareness at the start. Anna was all too aware of the waters edge as she tried desperately to hang on to every last ray of sunshine as the sun moved behind the trees. My phone was in hand just in case she put foot wrong. I wouldn’t want to miss that!


Peg Six: Josiah ‘His Lordship’ Parkes Wells: Jo and dad, James (I finally remembered your name! Go Me!) were camped out in the formidable peg six. Formidable because of the treacherous descent into and climb out of the peg. But, once in, it can be a brilliant peg to fish. Today however the breeze was blowing into the easterly facing peg making it a little chilly and difficult to control a whip float. A few line sinking techniques helped a bit, but the float still ended up at Jo’s feet rather than where it needed to be. The disappearance of the Lilypad has changed this swim too, but the margin to the right is still a good bet. Jo did catch some fish today though and was having fun right up until he wasn’t. I looked up to see Captain Chris seated and fishing with not a Jo in sight. ‘He’s not feeling well,’ said Chris. Concerned I sought out James to see how the patient was. Apparently, a victim of his own doing as it turned out. Not keeping hydrated is a sure-fire way of not feeling in tip top condition, despite James repeatedly reminding Jo to drink. Jo was loaded into the car for a lie down, given a bottle of water and told to ‘drink that lot’. James checked on Jo to find him absolutely spark out asleep cuddling his water bottle. Fishing in the fresh air can take its toll on energy levels and for a lad like Jo who does have some other issues with asthma and the like, even more so. Here's the lesson kids, stay hydrated at all times. You can’t fish to your full potential if you are running low on fuel…


Pegs Seven & eight, empty:


Peg Nine: Faith ‘My little Dormouse’ Stone: Faith’s support team arrived on fire AGAIN. I say on fire, they weren’t of course. It’s just my way of saying they were last in. You can’t be late at our events… But arrive they did ably supported by the Lovely Alex who can brighten any day. I must tell you about how proud I am of this young lady. She sent me a video on FB of her tying a figure of eight loop knot. The little lady in the video was not the one I had met for the first-time last year. Not by a long way. She was direct to the camera, big strong voice, brimming with confidence. This was evident again today because she raised a hand during the tutorials to answer a question, all-be-it very quietly. Alex and Faith are also now the firmest of friends I am told. P9 isn’t the easiest of pegs to fish for small stuff but, as usual, she stuck at it right to the last. Many of the boys could take a leaf from her book. Even some of the more experienced ones! As many of you will know, I am an avid supporter of getting more girls and women involved with fishing. I don’t think Alex realises how much I appreciate her volunteering herself as coach at our junior events, or just how important she is to any young ladies that are or will be involved with our club going forward. Alex will admit she has lots to learn herself too. I’m sure she will learn along with the Shrimps. Having a female coach in our team is priceless and I want her to know that. Like Josiah, they caught a few fish, but struggled a bit with the wind and the fact that P9 is a cold peg at this time of year. Coaching isn’t about weight or numbers anyway. It’s just practice and learning. I truly believe that Faith has untapped natural angling talent and I very much look forward to helping her to discover that over this year and in the years to come.

Having said all this, the sight of everyone running for cover as Faith wound up an overhead cast, with a 20 gram plummet, ON A WHIP.... was something to behold....


Peg 10: The Copps (Twiglet) Dave and Jack were already fishing when I arrived at the lake. I have no problem with this during coaching events. They had already caught some Roach, Bream, and Tench, making P10 the one to be on. I admit that it is one of my favourites too, along with P3 and P6. Maybe P2 (That’s nearly half the lake then??) I don’t know if it was me but, I had got sneaky feeling that Dave had actually cloned Jack because he seemed to be everywhere, all of the time. I even cleaned my glasses twice to make sure I wasn’t having an optical anomaly. But when I heard Anna say that Jack was looking more like his dad than ever, I realised that Jack might have peaked early because of the earlier start. When asked why he wasn’t fishing himself, I was told ‘I’m saving my energy for later’.

Twiglet was so absent from his peg in fact, that I didn't get a picture of him actually fishing! So, there's a picture of Dave instead.... Jack and Dave were staying on after to see if they could snare a Carp in ‘the witching hours’ before dark when the Carp seem to feed better at Luckfield. The funniest thing was that Dave didn’t really move far all day, Staying put to try to catch a Carp. Afterall, Jack was doing enough walking for them both. That didn’t stop Jake making his way round to Dave’s gear and catching one. Tom had a go and caught a Carp. Even Faith, as she was walking past to go home, grabbed Dave’s Carp rod as it rattled off to land a fish of around 8lbs. Everyone except Dave was catching on Dave’s gear!


 

Levelling up in this game of fishing today was Faith Stone. Getting certificate and Perch badge, she now moves onto Tench Level 3. Congratulations little lady. Try to look happier about it next time!!!

 

CODE BROWN: Now, I have a bit of a gripe. This isn’t the first time we have had a ‘Code Brown’, 2nd in fact, but on the basis of three strikes and you’re out, it will be almost the last. I decided that I would provide a Loo tent at venues with no facilities, like Luckfield and Sharnhill, so that the young ladies that grace our events do not have to endure the discomfort or the indignity of ‘making water’ in a rural setting. Nature saw fit to provide us chaps with equipment so that we may easier make water whilst keeping a degree of dignity intact. (Pee up a tree) I understand that a ‘Code Brown’ may occur to anyone at any time. But the fact remains that the notice on the lid of the loo states, and I quote, ‘Please leave this loo as you wish to find it’. Clearly, there are at least two people in our midst that feel that opening the lid to a non-flushable loo to find a ‘Big Henry’ growling at you from below, is acceptable and ‘as they would wish to find it’. Unfortunately, I do not share this opinion and I hope to speak behalf of most when I say that it is not. If you lay some timber, or even make water, get rid of it. Anywhere, anyhow, I don’t care what you do with your creation, just leave the straining chair clean and empty. I have provided everything with which to do so. Just to recap: The Loo is for the Women and Girls. ONLY! If you, male or female, feel the need to ‘download’, then it is your responsibility to deal with it as necessary. If a junior experiences a Code Brown, then it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to deal with it. Tissue paper should be placed in the bin (provided) and NOT in the loo. There are wet wipes to clean your hands. Antibacterial wipes, antibacterial spray and clothes with which to clean the seat. From now on, I will provide clean water so you can clean out the loo.

It is not, nor should it be, my responsibility or that of my coaching team.

Joking aside, clear up your mess or wee in a bush. It’s your choice…


You have been warned…


 

Gripes over now and it only remains for me to say thank you to: The Lovely Alex The Red Fox (aka Mr Tom) Si Wag (The Master of Corrections) Captain Chris Ward Nice bloke Tim Broughton Jon ‘Mr Bass’ Bass


Special thanks to Dave and Tom for picking up the signs that I had forgotten to collect because I was so exhausted… Big thanks to all parents for letting us borrow your anglers for the day.


And a big thank you to our juniors for making my job (unpaid) so fulfilling... Juniors Sec…



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